Google Execs Warn Company’s Reputation Could Suffer If It Moves Too Fast On AI-Chat Tech

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Google Execs Warn Company’s Reputation Could Suffer If It Moves Too Fast On AI-Chat Tech (



from the risk-averse dept.

Google employees asked executives at an all-hands meeting whether the AI chatbot that’s going viral represents a “missed opportunity” for the company. Google’s Jeff Dean said the company has much more “reputational risk” in providing wrong information and thus is moving “more conservatively than a small startup.” CNBC reports: Google employees are seeing all the buzz around ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot that was released to the public at the end of November and quickly turned into a Twitter sensation. Some of them are wondering where Google is in the race to create sophisticated chatbots that can answer user queries. After all, Google’s prime business is web search, and the company has long touted itself as a pioneer in AI. Google’s conversation technology is called LaMDA, which stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications.

At a recent all-hands meeting, employees raised concerns about the company’s competitive edge in AI, given the sudden popularity of ChatGPT, which was launched by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based startup that’s backed by Microsoft. “Is this a missed opportunity for Google, considering we’ve had Lamda for a while?” read one top-rated question that came up at last week’s meeting. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Jeff Dean, the long-time head of Google’s AI division, responded to the question by saying that the company has similar capabilities but that the cost if something goes wrong would be greater because people have to trust the answers they get from Google.

Pichai said at the meeting that the company has “a lot” planned in the space for 2023, and that “this is an area where we need to be bold and responsible so we have to balance that.” Google, which has a market cap of over $1.2 trillion, doesn’t have that luxury. Its technology has stayed largely in-house so far, Dean told employees, emphasizing that the company has much more “reputational risk” and is moving “more conservatively than a small startup.” “We are absolutely looking to get these things out into real products and into things that are more prominently featuring the language model rather than under the covers, which is where we’ve been using them to date,” Dean said. “But, it’s super important we get this right.” He went on to say “you can imagine for search-like applications, the factuality issues are really important and for other applications, bias and toxicity and safety issues are also paramount.” Dean said the technology isn’t where it needs to be for a broad rollout and that current publicly-available models have issues. Pichai said that 2023 will mark a “point of inflection” for the the way AI is used for conversations and in search. “We can dramatically evolve as well as ship new stuff,” he said.

And it should be the law: If you use the word `paradigm’ without knowing
what the dictionary says it means, you go to jail. No exceptions.
— David Jones


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